The week had gone by quick enough he thought to himself as he was preparing for the morning’s sermon. He had taken a part-time job at the local sawmill which had surprised the committee when they had heard about it, and when Mr. Newfield, who was the leading member had called to ask him why he’d done it, the preacher’s answer was very simple. He had been called to go and find the lost sheep and they were generally not found within the church! Also, the Apostle Paul had warned the Shepherds not to live off the flock but to earn their bread with their own hands. Therefore, the part-time job would bring him not only into contact with the locals but would also be in keeping with Paul’s commands to not be a burden on the church. Mr. Newfield’s answer was somewhat gruff as he stated that the church did not want to be flooded with riff raff and that the preacher should reconsider and then had hung up.
He wasn’t bothered by Mr. Newfield any more than he was by Mrs. Pilski or Mr. Barkely for the call of God to go into the world to bring in the lost was not a suggestion, but rather a command! As he finished adjusting the frock, some traditions were unavoidable, he cast a quick glance through the partially opened door and was a little surprised. There appeared to be more attendees than last week, and he thanked God with a humble heart, for he knew that he could do nothing without Jesus, the Son of God.
One quick glance at the full-length mirror and then he opened the door and went out and down the aisle between the pews. His office and the attached library were located near the front of the church, just off to the side of the double doors and the large windows presented a pleasant view of the hills that rose off in the distance behind the river. As he passed the pews, he smiled and greeted the congregation and paused a few times to shake the hand that was occasionally offered and then went up the carpeted steps to take his seat off to the side as the organist began to play the morning hymns. Mrs. Sinclair had been a teacher at the local grade school for over forty years and had just recently retired and she played the church organ for the same amount of time. It had been said that she never missed a Sunday nor pressed the wrong key or pedal and today, she was playing with gusto as the great organ slightly numbed the ears with its high pitches and low throbs! The choir, led by Mr. Barkely were struggling to be heard over her playing even as the congregation stood and held the old hymn books in their hands and sang the traditional songs.
At last, it was all finished, and he stood and took his place behind the pulpit. There were about two dozen new faces than last week and a couple of younger people. They looked expectantly at him as he opened the great Bible which lay before him, and so turning to the book of Exodus, Chapter Twenty, he began to speak, saying, “Last week, I began a sermon on the Ten Commandments, the first of which is You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me, and so today, I shall speak on the second commandment which states;
You shall not make for yourselves any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth. You shall not bow yourselves down to them, nor serve them, for I, the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments.
He continued, “Last week I mentioned to you about seeing quite a few of the Buddha images on a lot of lawns as I drove throughout the town and on the back roads and these are the very things that the Lord God has said must not be, but yet are! I am not pointing at anyone here, but I do wish to make it clear that if you are bowing down to them in any form or fashion or thought, then you are committing idol worship. Any association with such an object of distaste will eventually incur the curses of God whereas blessings will be withheld and you will suffer losses that will only multiply over time.” He made a short pause as he looked over them and they seemed to be listening carefully as well as the few openly disagreeable glances thrust in his direction.
And so he continued, saying, “But I am not speaking of Buddha alone because we have bowed ourselves down to much more than that. We have sought out Eastern practices such as Yoga and transcendental meditation and have busied ourselves in pulling esoterical teachings within the church to combine them with Biblical practices. They, in turn, do much to water down the precepts of God as well as to establish newer gods to worship. One only has to think about Queen Jezebel. She was the wife of King Ahab of Israel, and she did much evil in bringing in her wicked practices and false gods and caused many people to follow them into idolatry and profane worship. That, in turn, caused God to hold His hand back from blessing Israel. And the same things are happening today even now as I speak.”
He saw that this time they weren’t twisting and looking around as much as they had last week, and it appeared as though they were paying a bit more attentive to his words. Although Mrs. Pilski still frowned upon him as her husband sat next to her, also a slight scowl was to be seen on his features, they weren’t making it too obvious. He also noticed that Mr. Newfield and his wife had been casting glances around to see who was in the congregation, and the Preacher suspected that outward appearances played a mighty particular role in their view of the church!
At any rate, he continued to speak, saying, “When we place an object that requires our devotion before our eyes, then that object becomes our personal god. For example, people who devote every free minute of their time in a gym are devoted to a sport called, ‘body sculpture’ where the body is honed to perfection or as good as they can bring it. In essence, they have bowed themselves down to the cult of self-worship. You can see that when you look into the magazines or go on-line. And what about the so-called ‘selfie generation?’ This is our generation today that is fixed on self and self-centered attitudes where the main preoccupation is themselves, and that is also a type of idol worship. But let me take it one step up to the worship of false gods, or the faiths of other religions. When we place another ‘god’ next to the One true God, then we have committed open idolatry because we are accepting another ‘god’ which is not, and placing it besides God, making it equal to Him and that, my dear brethren should never be!
We have choices to make every day in our lives, and our faith in the Living God should never be subjected to bowing down to ‘gods’ that are not! Allow me to speak yet more clearly. The growth of Islam is increasing as their adherents lay claim as being the one true faith, but in truth, it is a lie. God, the Father sent God, the Son into this world to save this world from sin which actually means breaking the law and after the Son’s work was completed, he was received back to the Father in glory. He showed us who He was and what we need to do. About 6oo years later a man comes, claiming that he is a prophet of Allah, which by the way was the name of a ‘moon god’ being worshiped at that time, and that he, Mohammed, being taught by an angel who came to him in a cave, was to bring Allah to all nations.
This ‘god’ is neither one nor the ‘faith’ that he claimed to bring! Allah is not God the Father, and Mohammed was not sent by the Father of lights! There is a movement called ‘Chrislam’ where Christians and some Muslims are trying to merge the two into one, but I assure you that its final destination is destruction for those who bow down to it! Why would the Father send His only begotten Son into the world to save it and then turn around and send a ‘prophet’ with an entirely different message?
You are not to bow down to Allah, Buddha, Shamanism, Hari Krishna, or any other Hindu ‘gods’ neither are you to accept any other teachings that are not from the Word of God and have their foundations on it! You are not to bow down to witches, ghosts, or demons or who any claim to be angelic beings sent from the Father! There is only one God and he will not share His glory with another regardless of what you may think or believe because the faith is not based upon your opinions but upon your obedience to His Word, both written and living!”
The Preacher spoke further at length upon the subject, citing many more examples and referring to the Scriptures and encouraging the members of the congregation to read their Bibles for themselves so as to prove the words that he spoke, whether they be true or false. As he ended his sermon and sat back down, his prayer was that the words he spoke didn’t fall on deaf ears and that some would believe and be saved. He also knew that many of the older members were rock hard traditionalists and bringing them into the light after years of darkness would be difficult but the call to save souls left no other options. And as Mrs. Sinclair played and they all stood to sing, his heart rejoiced for he knew that the labor of love which lay before him would bring fruit, perhaps not today, perhaps not tomorrow, but eventually, the sheaves would be gathered in.
The last hymn was being sung as he made his way to the double doors that led out onto the broad stone steps and he noticed how the rain danced on the paved parking lot and bounced off the leaves of the trees that lined the drive. He waited patiently for the first members to come and express either their opinions of dissent or approvals of praise or perhaps neither, but whichever came first, he was determined to stand firm in the faith and hold out the scepter of God’s mercy to all.